Cruising Jervis Bay - Christmas 2011

Sunday, April 15, 2012

22-30 December 2011
Haliastur anchored off Red Point, Hare Bay (Jervis Bay, NSW)
Over Christmas 2011 Megan and I cruised Jervis Bay, NSW.  It was a fantastic experience, and would have been a 9 out of 10 trip normally, but throwing in my wedding proposal (and Megan's acceptance!) this trip received a 10 out of 10 from both of us!

We decided to start our trip from Sydney down the coast to Jervis on Thursday 22nd December.  Our plan was to leave in the afternoon once Megan was done work, and sail non-stop to Honeymoon Bay.

This decision itself represents one of the reasons why Jervis seems to be a less favoured cruising destination - despite its many charms.  There are few options for stopping over between Sydney and Jervis (Wollongong being the only real choice along the way).  As a result, the 85nm trip represents a challenge for cruisers who do not want to sail overnight (or can't average 10knots!).  Once in Jervis, there are also limited amenities for cruisers, but we found the reduced number of boats cruising the bay to more than offset any of these limitations.

This trip was Megan's first overnighter, and while she was a bit nervous, I was excited as I had extreme confidence in her abilities and wanted to get her over that hump.

In typical fashion, there were a few last minute items to finish before we headed off that I rushed to complete on the day of departure - the key one being to head to Whitworths to pick up a part needed to mount our new autopilot.  I had only figured out the optimal fitting the weekend before, but thankfully Raymarine were able to get the part delivered in time, and it only took a few hours to fit the autopilot and finish off the other odd jobs (changing oil, new fuel filter, new strong points in cockpit for tethers).

Megan relaxing under newly installed autopilot as we leave Rose Bay.
With the autopilot up and running - and our new 150% genoa from Quantum only a few weeks old - we were ready to rock!

The weather forecast was for a light 10 knot North-Easterly - which held true to start with and we made around 5.5 knots for the first few hours south out of the heads.  As the sun set, the wind dropped off and we were left with a fluctuating breeze most of the night, from almost nothing to around 5 knots.  Needless to say, in order to make any headway we turned to our trustee auxiliary.

Haliastur, our Duncanson 29, was equipped with an 8hp Yanmar (YSM8) and two blade fixed prop.  While reliable and efficient (about 1ltr/hour fuel consumption at maximum output), the extra 'umpf' is limited.  Even with the motor running all night, we only averaged around 3.5 knots.

These conditions, while less than ideal normally, actually suited us perfectly for Megan's first night sailing experience.  I couldn't have asked for a better set of conditions - calm seas and a light breeze for her to handle her first watches!  I was very confident in Megan's skills, but knowing that she wouldn't face any real challenges (other than sleep deprivation and the constant stream of tankers anchored off the NSW coast - which we were well clear of having taken a rhumb line route from Sydney to Jervis) was very comforting for both of us.

Sunset on our way - easiest first night watch ever!

The next morning the wind began to fill in again around 9am and we were able to get the moving average back up around 5 knots as we broad reached along the coast towards Jervis.

The rest of the trip to Jervis was very uneventful - though the cost of the autopilot was quickly put into perspective as we were able to enjoy our watches without having to helm continuously!

Megan was therefore able to pursue her favorite part of sailing for much of the day ....

We entered the mouth of the bay around 3pm, passing under the Point Perpendicular Lighthouse.  Keeping to the north side of the mouth of the bay (be cautious of the bombora off Longnose Point), we headed towards Honeymoon Bay where we picked up a visitors mooring.

Jervis Bay is replete with moorings, which are a necessity given the restrictions on anchoring imposed as part of the Jervis Bay Marine Park.  Honeymoon Bay had more than ten moorings - though many were in less than 2 metres (and some more like 1m) at low tide only leaving a few which would be suitable for boats with any significant draft (most of these were occupied by tinnies or small motorboats).

I took a quick snorkel down to check out the mooring, and was surprised at how robust a mooring system was in place.  It appeared that a pillar was driven into the seabed, from which a horizontal arm extended that could rotate above the height of the seagrass - definitely an ingenious way to protect the habitat while allowing mooring to take place.

We quickly settled in, went for a swim to the beach and back, then cracked some Coronas and enjoyed steak and salad as the sun set.  The following morning we decided to relax and enjoy the day on the mooring, a perfect opportunity to test out our new hammock!

 The following day we dropped the mooring and headed to Hare Bay, which is the north east quadrant of Jervis Bay opposite Callala.  There is a large marine sanctuary zone which occupies most of Hare Bay with prohibited anchoring & fishing.  There are designated anchoring areas from Green Point south to Montagu Point, and a much smaller area around Red Point.

While these restrictions are apparent on the charts, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the Jervis Bay Marine Park Zoning Plan users guide produced by the Marine Parks Authority.  This provides greater detail on the sanctuary zones and restrictions.  We were lucky enough to have a copy with annotations, which came in a fairly comprehensive package of information concerning Jervis Bay prepared by our friend Ian.   Thanks again for that!

Anchored off Red Point ... perfection!
We anchored just west of Red Point in anticipation of stronger north easterly winds to come that afternoon/evening.  While we will always be partial to Hole in the Wall (for reasons that will become obvious below), we agreed that this was our favorite anchorage of our time in Jervis.  While exposed from all but north or north-north east winds, in those conditions the beauty of this location is well worth it!

We rowed ashore and had the three kilometres of beach from Red Point to Hare Point to ourselves.  It was a magical afternoon walking the beach, talking, swimming and feeling like we had a slice of paradise to ourselves.

The vibrancy of the marine sanctuary was evident by the amount of fish species prowling the beach - we saw numerous rays looking for lunch!

After a relaxing afternoon, we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset to close out Christmas Eve!

And woke Christmas morning to find Santa had visited us on Haliastur - how he fit through the hatch one will never know.  (And yes, Megan definitely deserved the "Nice" stocking from our "Naughty & Nice" pair!)
 We were enjoyed breakfast with a pod of dolphins providing entertainment as they cruised along the coast.
Our next destination was Orion Beach off Vincentia on the western side of the bay.  With a 12-15 knot north-easter blowing and anticipated to pick up later in the day, it was a great sail across the bay but I was quite nervous about anchoring and leaving the boat for the afternoon to have a Christmas day lunch with our friends Sam & Julieanne and Sam's family at their place in Vincentia.

Thankfully, a number of the private moorings at the west end of Orion/south end of Collingwood beaches were unoccupied.  While I believe these are commercial moorings, we decided to chance it and pick up a mooring rather than anchor - rationalizing that, being Christmas day, they would not be needed.

This proved to be a great decision as, feeling comfortable that Haliastur was safe and sound, we were able to fully celebrate with our friends - multiple kilos of prawns and bottles of sparking later, I was relieved not to have to a) row us back out in what was now 20+ knots or b) fear that the anchor might drag onto a lee shore.  As a result, we felt comfortable to take up the offer of staying the night ashore with our friends.

We woke the following morning with Megan feeling a bit rusty - while I on the other hand was pumped with adrenalin from the moment the sun rose.  I had snuck a bottle of our favorite Rockford's Black Shiraz on board, which was hidden in with the tools together with a giant fake diamond ring.  I felt pretty confident Megan wasn't going to be rummaging around in there!

The plan had been to propose to Megan at some point over the trip, and with a southerly supposed to come through the evening of the 26th and the uncertainty of what the weather do from then on, I made the call ... today is the DAY!

After a quick stop at the grocery store and petrol station in Vincentia to re-supply, we headed to the south-east corner of Jervis Bay to pick up a visitor mooring at Hole in the Wall Beach.

The entire trip down I was thinking over in my head what I wanted to say and how I was going to do the proposal.  Meanwhile, Megan was struggling from the celebrations of the day/night before.

When we arrived, there was only one other sloop on a mooring with no-one to be seen.  I packed a beach bag with a European style lunch (hard-boiled eggs, pears, ham, brie, baguettes and hummus) and pleaded with Megan to go ashore and have a nice lunch.

She had no idea what I was up to - but it did take some convincing that a nap wasn't in order and she should take a swim to shake off her hangover while I got lunch ready!

Needless to say, I was very relieved when, with the spread layed out she finally relaxed on our beach blanket.  At which point I got the camera out to "take shots for the blog we'll start".

Then ... down on one knee ... I pulled out the bottle of black shiraz with the ring around the neck of the bottle and said some special words to my love!  We both teared up and had a lovely hug and kiss, cracked the bottle and celebrated the occasion!

It was about ten minutes later that I realized, in all the special things I said to Megan about her, us, and the life I hoped to share with her, I had forgotten to actually say "Will you marry me?".

I quickly got that out of the way, and then we were able to celebrate in earnest.  Megan decided some cartwheels were in order!

After a few hours alone on the beach celebrating, we headed back out to the boat and Megan started the requisite calls to the world.

Very quickly, our friends Sam & Julieanne decided they would come out the following day to continue the celebration with us, which they did bringing us some more sparking.  Thanks again guys!

Megan, Julieanne, Mike and Sam - loving it despite the weather!

Where it all happened!

The Hole in the Wall

We decided to spend one more day at Hole in the Wall before heading back to Sydney.  The moorings had filled up the previous day, and a number of additional yachts came through and anchored in this lovely location.  

The moorings are at the eastern end of Hole in the Wall beach, but you can walk west along the beach all the way to HMAS Creswell.  The further west you go, the more campers from Booderee National Park you will encounter.

Hole in the Wall - Jervis Bay
On December 29 we dropped the mooring and headed out of the mouth of the bay with a lovely southerly breeze of 10-12 knots pushing us nicely towards Sydney.

Just off Wollongong we enjoyed a spaghetti bolognaise and Coke Zero before getting ready to start our watches - we weren't going to get back until early the next morning.
 It was right after dinner that we had our only major drama of the trip.  Suddenly and without warning the boom shot skyward and the mainsheet and blocks flew violently around the cockpit!  Thankfully, the flying block missed Megan's head as it shot up and to leeward.

We quickly headed to windward, dropped the main, furled in the genoa, tidied up the main and lashed the boom to the deck.  After a damage/rigging inspection, we got underway again under genoa alone.

The lower mainsheet block was attached to the traveller by two shackles.  Over the course of the day, the pin must have loosened and slid out enough that the pressure of the main bent the shackle, as below.

Lower mainsheet block - the hole is where the pin from the shackle passes through.

Traveller attachment point
While scary at the time, in hindsight this little emergency was great - we communicated with each other well, responded rapidly and, all up, it was another great learning experience that provided more confidence for our upcoming demi-circumnavigation.

Rather than chance the only other shackle that would fit the opening in the mainsheet block, we decided to continue under genoa alone back to Sydney.  It was a beautiful sail the rest of the way.  Megan had the first off watch, but I was enjoying the sail and decided not to wake her.  Coming up the coast at night is an amazing view, and I listened to music on the IPod and enjoyed the rest of the trip.
Sunset off the coast - Royal National Park, NSW
Coming back through the heads into Port Jackson (Sydney harbor) just after 2am, I was looking forward to pickup up our mooring in Rose Bay and nodding off.  Rather than tack back up the harbour (the wind still being out of the south southeast), I dropped the sails off Sow & Pigs reef and motored home.

Megan woke as I settled into my bunk, snug on the mooring and with a smile on my face after an excellent adventure.

All in all, a wonderful trip and I highly recommend Jervis as a destination along the south NSW coast!

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